So, a couple hours ago, I just up and walked out of Eirtakon after having the previous 12 months of anger, disappointment, hassle, and loads of issues that we as the committee as a whole swept under the rug, all come to a head at once in a massive outburst in the production office.
It came to a head when I posted this earlier, but a lot of events from before that will need to be explained first:
Pretty much all of this crap started about 11 months ago when the new director was appointed, and I – having been the previous year’s PR, social media, webmaster, domain admin etc. – sent off a list of suggested changes for this year to help improve and streamline the whole to fix flaws that were exposed from the previous year. Mostly this involved combining two roles – one which handles tickets being sold at the door, and one which handles tickets being sold online befoehand – as well as setting up a PR Manager to oversee the various roles on the committee that involved public relations in some form, such as the social media rep, the main PR officer, those in charge of liaising with artists, traders, guests etc and others.
The entire mail and the suggestions within were completely ignored. That on it’s own, I could have worked with, but then I was also told that I was being assigned to the single role of web administrator, where my job was to manage the website and the backend Google Apps system. That’s it. I was well and truly pissed off, as at the time I was one of the few remaining members long-serving members of the committee (four years probably isn’t long-serving in most cases, but when it’s four years out of nine, it’s a lot) and I was being demoted to what felt like a random backend code monkey. I felt as if it was the start of a process of being forced out of the committee, despite my experience, because new people wanted to come in and make it theirs. I was speaking with a friend who had spent some time on the committee and they told me that they had felt that some other experienced people at the convention were slowly forced out in a similar manner.
About 2-3 months ago, our Director ended up calling on some of the old guard of the convention to “help out” as things were falling apart. One of those people was a guy I had worked very closely with on the committee for almost three years in the PR and web side of things. As it turns out, the amount of work that he had to do to essentially save the con this year – which by the way included creating the conbook on the left in the image above within the space of a couple of days, completing it with just a few days left before the con opened today – was the work that I had originally suggested be put in the PR manager role at the start of the year. It made me even more livid that my suggested new role, which had been completely scoffed at not only at the start of the year, but also during the year as well, had to be brought in to clean up the entire mess that happened this year, at least from a PR side.
I need to take a moment to talk about the directorship of Eirtakon. For every year since it’s creation, the director of the convention was voted on by the committee of the Anime and Manga Society – not the previous con committee. Also, the director, based on the charter of the society, must be a current DCU student. We got away with it up until this year, but when I heard our current director got the role, I was really worried as I had seen no signs of her being experience enough to handle it. I was even more worried with the co-director was a guy who had been incredibly useless and a terrible worker as the anime co-ordinator the previous year. Two people with one year’s experience each were running this year’s convention, and I was seriously doubting their abilities for the entirety of the year.
A lot of this article might be me comparing the inner workings of Eirtakon to what I know of the inner workings of Q-Con, up in Belfast. There’s a good reason to because Q-Con have run a superb and nearly flawless event for twenty years now. The main reason they have so much success is because they keep the experienced people who are still happy and willing to help out and they gladly listen to their advice and suggestion. Q-Con also has a board of five directors, mostly people with many, many years of experience; and all of them have a say in how the convention runs. Here, we had one person, and one person only who could run the whole thing like a dictatorship. That worked well about four years ago when the committee was still only about twelve people and the attendance was less than 800. Now the committee is over thirty-three people (not including assistants) and the attendance is over 3,000, including many returning attendees from abroad. Eirtakon has evolved from a college society shindig weekend, into an internationally renowned and respected event; but the committee structure has not evolved to follow suit, and I’m not going to sit around and wait for that to happen while the con falls apart around me, and I’m powerless to do anything to save it.